‘My work now is more independent' - Q&A with BT's Nick Hartley
Hartley was a senior officer in the RAF and now works in cyber security for BT. Ahead of the BT Cyber Security Careers Insight, the Officers' Association asked him to share his transition story.
Tell me about your military career
I joined the RAF as an engineer straight after graduating from Manchester University, having been in the University Air Squadron. I served for 29 years and left in January 2018. I completed three tours as a Group Captain in Joint Forces Command, I was previously appointed Deputy Director of the Advanced Command and Staff Course at the Defence Academy and then became Head of Capability Development for Cyber, Cryptography and Influence operations in Joint Forces Command at Northwood.
Why did you leave the RAF?
I wanted to use my skills and experiences in other industries and experience a new challenge. I had just turned 50, and it would be harder to start a new career if I waited any longer. I also wanted greater domestic stability, because I was tired of relocating my family every time I got a new posting.
How are you finding to your new career?
I’m adapting well, partly because I still work in a Defence and Security environment. My work for the Ministry of Defence involved identifying capability requirements, and now at BT I help to find the solutions to those Ministry of Defence Cyber and Crypto programmes. Plus many of my new BT colleagues are also veterans , so there is some continuity.
What are the biggest differences about your new career?
My work now is more independent, and the company is less hierarchical, compared to the Armed Forces. There is also more responsibility on me to complete tasks. I talk to people because of their knowledge, skills and experiences, rather than rank, which is refreshing. I have also developed new skills, including learning about profit and loss within a commercial framework.
What transition steps did you take?
I completed the Senior Officer Career Transition Workshop, which was three days in Canary Wharf meeting industry leaders in the commercial sector learning about the different opportunities available. I also used my network of contacts, asking former colleagues working in different industries about their new careers. However, I did not participate in many formal transition steps, because I gave my notice having already secured a new job.
Why did you decide to work for BT Security?
I chose BT because it is the national, sovereign telecommunications and cyber security provider with a long and established partnership with the Ministry of Defence. BT is primarily a technology company that works in Defence, rather than a Defence company that develops technology. This means I can work with people across the full range of BT business units and learn from them on how to improve solutions for Defence. BT also actively recruits veterans and is the largest employer of military reservists in the UK.
What transferrable skills are beneficial in Cyber Security?
Technical qualifications and skills are easily transferrable, being relevant to the role and recognised by the industry. For example, my MBA in Technology Management, from the Open University, has proven invaluable as did being a Chartered Engineer and a Chartered Physicist. The industry values excellent leadership, communication and presentation skills, which are all areas where veterans excel.
Why should Service leavers and veterans attend the BT Cyber Security Careers Insight Event?
Cyber security is a broad and diverse industry, with many different opportunities. Many of the skills and experiences veterans have are highly sought after in cyber security. This event will help Service leavers and veterans start a career in cyber security. Attendees will gain insight on what careers are available, and meet people who have already been on a similar transition journey.
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